STAGE 12: Tonnerre – Vittel
Thursday, July 16

DISTANCE: 211.5km

WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?
Today’s stage is a bit lumpier than yesterday’s as the race heads eastwards through vineyard country to Vittel, a town made famous for its mineral water.

It’s another transition stage before the race heads into the Vosges mountains, and later, the Alps.

There are six categorised climbs along the route; they are only minor climbs, but with the Alps looming over the peloton it may be a day for a breakaway. Just like a casino, the sprinters’ teams don’t win every time.

Stage 12 map and profile>>>

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
With so many categorised climbs dotted along the way today, as well as some that are not categorised, the odds looked stacked in the favour of the breakaway specialists.

The roads are predominantly twisty back roads, which could also suit a break’s chances. The French missed out on Bastille Day, but have had a good Tour so far this year with three stage wins so will be looking to capitalise again today.

With some really tough days in the mountains approaching, the likelihood is the peloton will treat today’s stage as a de facto rest day and allow the break some leeway. Cavendish said yesterday that only one other stage interests him in this year’s race, the Champs Elysées, but don’t discount him if it does all come back together.

MEN TO WATCH
Sylvain Chavanel – The Frenchman has kept an uncharacteristically low profile so far this year. Could he be saving up for something spectacular?

Jérôme Pineau – the Quick Step man has a string of top ten results to his name in the Tour, his best being a second place in 2002. The rolling profile suits his attacking style.

Mikhail Ignatiev – The Russian Katusha rider has been in almost every break of note so far. A strong all-rounder, he’ll like today’s route.

CW’S TIP TO WIN
Sylvain Chavanel – we’ve picked Chavanel as our tip to win before, and so far, he hasn’t come up with the goods. Today could be his lucky day.  

WHO’S WEARING THE JERSEYS?
Yellow – Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R-La Mondiale)


Green – Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC)
Polka-dot – Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)


White – Tony Martin (Columbia-HTC)

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS
Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.

STAGE REPORTS

Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban’s record

Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win

Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire

stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out

Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance

Stage six: Millar’s brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs

Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage

Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second

Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage

Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador

Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint

Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial

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EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS

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TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS

Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones

Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson

Team presentation by Andy Jones

Team presentation by Graham Watson

TOUR GUIDE
Tour de France 2009 – the hub
Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding
Tour de France 2009: Team guide
About the Tour de France

FEATURES
Tour de France 2009: Who will win?
Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules
Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France
Tour de France anti-doping measures explained
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles

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